Opposing ambitions arose in the UK when liberal democrat Communities Minister Don Foster started a campaign to wage a battle over the legal limits that can be ‘wagered’ at high stakes gambling machines. Essentially the power struggle between the Coalition and those who maintain an investment interest in games of chance – for example casino owners results in the Coalition ordering a statistical analysis of ‘gambling in the UK’. The physical number and location of the stakes, and the prize amounts and levels will all be examined in the review.
Foster is promoting that more regulation is necessary in order to control the amount of risk citizens are allowed to take with their finances. Clearly upon a moral platform, Foster expressed his viewpoint on the matter by stating that “For too long this problem has been swept under the carpet. There’s no doubt this is ruining people’s lives.” The underlying moral, political, and economic effects of high stakes gambling is certainly the subject of scrutiny in the UK for the time.
Political and Moral Tensions
For now, the Coalition rejected the recommendation that the current restrictions on gambling machines be decreased. The House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee suggested that local authorities be given the discretion to approve even more casinos that would house as many as twenty high stakes machines. The committee wishes to see more ‘Las Vegas style’ gaming machines that offer as much as £500 prizes.
Britain’s puritanical gambling laws were relaxed, but for the committee, not enough. According to Don Foster, however, the laws are far too relaxed and he cites ‘destruction of lives’ as the basis for his desire for tighter restrictions when it comes to gambling. If Foster wins, the pendulum will swing the opposite way and stricter governmental regulations on gambling will be implemented.
High Stakes Gambling Hangs in the Balance
Regardless of the outcome the gaming and casino industry in the UK be will be impacted in one way or another. Subsequent to the relaxation of historically puritan rule, citizens in the UK saw high stakes machines in betting shops or casinos on the rise. The fixed odds machines spiked from 16,380 in 2007 to the current number of terminals at 32,000. Punters can currently wager up to £500 per spin and £18,000 per hour at the ‘high stakes’ machines. Should the pendulum swing again punters will be limited to £2 per spin.
Foster asserted that the ‘industry’ could negotiate for a higher limit than his proposed £2 but it would be up to them to initiate the request. The proposal for a new £2 per spin limit on wagers would shrink the gap between the now ‘high stakes’ machines and the stakes that are currently found in bingo halls and certain casino games. The clampdown will allow local councils to determine the restrictions on the machines and require websites operating from abroad to acquire UK gambling licenses.